Since 1993, the Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) has been dedicated to conserving and sustaining America’s vital, productive forest landscapes. Working with forest owners, communities, and an array of partners, this conservation organization is advancing innovative, incentive-based strategies to safeguard our nation’s diverse forests. This work ensures forests continue to provide people throughout the nation — from rural communities to urban centers — with a wealth of benefits, including clean water, sustainably harvested wood, green jobs, wildlife habitat, and a livable climate.
The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) works with forest owners, public agencies and communities to conserve significant forests in the Pacific West. PFT also works nationally to promote policy initiatives that advance the conservation and stewardship of private working forests around the United States. Recognized as a national leader in sustainable forestry and conservation, to date PFT has conserved more than 238,000 acres of forestland in California, Oregon and Washington, including 83,000 acres conserved with working forest conservation easements.
Development, historic use and other economic pressures as well as changing ecological conditions are some of the most pressing challenges to forest health and conservation efforts in the Pacific West. PFT also helps to protect the integrity of important publicly-owned forests and parks by strategically conserving neighboring private lands threatened by fragmentation, degradation and development. A key motivator for PFT in developing forest carbon policies and projects is that forest carbon projects provide landowners with direct and competitive financial return for both staying in forest use, and restoring older, more natural forests.
The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) implements a land acquisition strategy that works to “Retain, Sustain, and Gain” forests. To Retain our nation’s forests PFT emphasizes raising awareness about how forests benefit all Americans and how increasingly threatened these woodlands are by expanding real estate development and other forces. PFT works to Sustain forests by employing state-of-the-art forest stewardship and conservation practices on the thousands of acres they manage in the Pacific West, and expand conservation collaborations to the landscape level. Through national advocacy, outreach and sharing management expertise, this conservation organization also promotes exemplary forest management so people across the United States will better understand that good forestry is key to the conservation of nature. Additionally, PFT aims to help us all Gain from working forests by developing new, practical and cost-effective ways to encourage forest owners and managers to protect the natural qualities of their forests. This focus includes working to advance policies that provide landowners with new sources of revenue and other incentives for conservation and stewardship of their forests’ natural values, such as increasing the storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), protecting water supplies, and enhancing habitat for fish and wildlife.
PFT is an early pioneer of techniques and standards used to create forest carbon projects—also known as emissions reductions or offset projects—which harness and protect the natural ability of forests to accumulate and hold carbon, acting as carbon “sinks” and providing essential climate benefits. These projects can be structured in several ways, but primarily they are designed to enhance the landscape’s ability to sequester carbon by:
While working forest conservation easements are useful in all of the above project categories, they are required for “Avoided Conversion” projects in the compliance market. With these projects, landowners create emissions reductions that are additional to what would have been gained with business-as-usual forest management. Once these gains are verified through rigorous, government-approved standards, landowners can market the verified emissions reductions, now known as ARBOCs, or regulatory compliance Offset Credits, creating a new income stream derived from stewarding their land and its essential climate benefits to the public. Customers for those ARBOCs include utilities and other companies complying with greenhouse gas reduction regulations, such as California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) or the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the New England states – both use the same standards. In addition, many individuals, businesses and organizations seeking to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprint will purchase credits from forests to offset emissions.
The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) is a national leader in developing public policies, scientific accounting, and practical on-the-ground forest projects to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate disruption. These forest carbon projects help protect the atmosphere while yielding financial rewards for providing this critical service. Today PFT is helping landowners from coast to coast establish carbon projects designed to meet the highest quality standards for the developing carbon market.
PFT pioneered the use of “working forest conservation easements” that ensure forests stay as forests and are well managed for all the benefits they can provide. To demonstrate how forest carbon projects work on the ground, PFT implemented the first emissions reductions project registered by the state of California’s Climate Action Reserve Program in the 2,200 acre van Eck Forest in Humboldt County, California.. That voluntary program has evolved into part of the state’s now regulatory program, and the Van Eck project is being transitioned to a compliance project under the Air Resources Board (ARB) PFT’s forest operations are also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Additionally, the van Eck forests include 7,200 acres in Oregon’s Linn and Benton Counties. These forests are conserved with WFCEs. Through PFT’s stewardship, the Van Eck working forests are economically self-sustaining.
The California Van Eck Forest has 405,503 tons of additional carbon since 2005, and has produced 13 million FSC-certified board feet in the same time period. Revenue from these stewardship forests will covers all operating expenses and generates additional income for the Van Eck Forest Foundation to support forest research and graduate scholarships at Purdue University. Since launching the Van Eck Forest Project in 2002, PFT has helped to develop 10 new carbon projects in California, Washington State, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine.
To support its mission to Retain, Sustain, and Gain forest resources, the Pacific Forest Trust works with conservation partners, landowners, communities and public agencies. As carbon offset projects become more standard with large land owners, PFT is sharing success stories highlighting the economic and ecological value of this management approach to support on the ground project implementation and policy reform across the nation. From the 2002 implementation of the first forest emissions reduction project registered under California’s Forest Protocols to new projects in Washington State, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine, each successful example of working forests providing carbon offsets creates a stronger case – both economic and ecological – for this enhanced approach to forest management. Partnerships supporting carbon-sensitive stewardship as well as education and policy reform are and will continue to be an essential element of PFT’s ongoing success. Over 1,000,000 of forest carbon projects are now either completed or in development (listing stage) under the Climate Action Reserve for the compliance market.
PFT provides technical advisory and related project development services to a range of partners from family-forest owners like the Phillips Family Tree Farm in Oak Run, California, to the non-profit Appalachian Mountain Club in Maine, to timber investment management firms such as the Campbell Group and the Forestland Group that PFT advised on gas projects in McCloud, California and Virginia respectively. Other current collaborations include participation in coalitions such as the Carbon Canopy Project, which is working with corporate and non-profit stakeholders like Staples, Inc., Columbia Forest Products, and Dogwood Alliance to develop of a suite of projects with landowners in the hardwood forests of the central Appalachian Cumberland Plateau area. These projects will generate climate benefits to complement the production of sustainably harvested wood under the Forest Stewardship Council’s standard.
Currently PFT is collaborating with a multitude of working lands stakeholders to call on policymakers to safeguard U.S. forests and their climate benefits in legislation that would regulate greenhouse gas emissions. For U.S. forests and other working lands to be leveraged for significant and lasting climate benefits, PFT recommends a strategy to:
As California implements and further develops its plans to achieve its climate goals under AB 32, PFT is working closely with the state Air Resources Board and stakeholders to ensure that the contributions of forests as a sector are recognized in a comprehensive way. The state has adopted PFT’s framework that calls for measuring and monitoring forest carbon stocks and changes, mitigating losses, and marketing gains. At the same time, PFT has and continues to work to directly influenced policies across the country, within the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative region including the Mid-Atlantic States (which has now adopted California’s forest offset protocols), Washington and Oregon States, the Western Climate Initiative, the Southeast region and at the federal level. In May 2008, PFT President Laurie Wayburn testified about the role of forests in achieving U.S. climate goals in the first Congressional hearing ever on the subject. She also has worked with Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection and the Green Group coalition of leading national environmental groups, to promote national climate policy goals compatible with international climate processes. Efforts to support meaningful mitigation and adaptation policies can and are resulting in enhanced conservation tools to address climate change.
Specializing in the Pacific West
Acres protected / managed
223,000 acres conserved as of 2014
Total number of staff
15 Full Time Employees
Size of the property
2,200 acre redwood forest in Humboldt County, California
The Pacific Forest Trust manages the Van Eck Forests in California and Oregon as living laboratories, demonstrating how stewardship forestry restores biological diversity and habitat for threatened species while protecting watersheds. The 2,200 acre Van Eck forest in California also exemplifies how forest management can increase carbon stores for clean air and a livable climate while rebuilding overall inventory through sustainable harvest practices.
This self-funded stewardship forest is owned by the Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation and has been managed by the Pacific Forest Trust since 2002.
The Van Eck Forests are living laboratories, which are being studied by local universities and are open to the public with written permission.